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Monday, September 20, 2021

Outside Afghanistan embassy in Delhi, fear and uncertainty: ‘Fled from Taliban 5 years ago, we know what they can do’

Many seek help to get their relatives to India, but find little clarity from embassy officials

Written by Abhinaya Harigovind | New Delhi |
Updated: August 16, 2021 6:35:59 pm
Outside Afghanistan embassy in Delhi, fear and uncertainty: ‘Fled from Taliban 5 years ago, we know what they can do’People outside Afghanistan Embassy in New Delhi on Monday. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

Sadaf Habeeb, a 22-year-old from Kabul, was outside the Embassy of Afghanistan in Delhi on Monday, hoping for some clarity on the possibility of help for her family members back home, and for someone to allay the uncertainty she has been feeling over her status in India now that the Taliban has established control over her country.

Officials at the embassy were non-committal and seemed unsure of what was coming next themselves, said Sadaf, who made the visit with her mother. She is frightened, she said, for her grandparents, uncles and friends who are in Kabul. “Having fled with my parents from Taliban attacks five years ago, we know what they can do,” Sadaf said.

Shukrollah Kareemi, a 23-year-old from Kabul, was similarly at the embassy on Saturday afternoon to find help for his aunt and uncle who are back home in Afghanistan, and had sought his assistance with bank and payment card work. They have been holed up inside their house for a while now, he said. Asked what it is like for his aunt and uncle to be in Kabul now, he shook his head and sighed. While he is grateful for the safety of being in India with the rest of his family for now, he hopes that his aunt and uncle will be able to move here as well. “Most of my friends and family members have moved, either to India or to other countries. If the embassy there and flight operations resume, my aunt and uncle are hoping to move out too — hopefully in a month or so,” said Shukrollah, who has lived in Delhi for three years now.

The youngsters have been in touch with their family and friends in Afghanistan, besides monitoring the news, and are heartbroken and hurt at the visuals they have been receiving.

Adeeba Qayoumi, who has been in touch with her older sister and aunts in Parwan, said that the situation there appeared to be somewhat “normal” now. But that’s just the calm before the storm, she said. “It’s just starting,” she said, referring to the havoc that the Taliban could unleash on its people. Adeeba, who works as a translator at a clinic in Delhi, said that she and her mother were headed to the Air India office here to find out if they can get her sister and aunts on a flight to Delhi.

“They have been trying to get out. They wanted to leave either today or tomorrow, but have not been able to,” she said. Security was tight around the embassy on Saturday and several police persons were stationed on the streets around the building.

With their lives having been in a state of flux, Sadaf, Shukrollah and Adeeba have all dropped their studies. Sadaf was a student of science at Kabul University when she had to drop out and move to Delhi. Similarly, Adeeba, who has been in Delhi for nearly two years now, was studying medicine in Afghanistan before she left. They are still picking up the pieces of their lives, and are yet to return to their studies. Shukrollah, who completed class 12 from Afghanistan, said he is hoping to go to college here this year.

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